Desert Invasion - U.S.

San Bernadino National Wildlife Refuge

The San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge is located on the U.S.-Mexican border in Cochise County, Arizona, 17 miles east of Douglas. Situated at 3,720 to 3,920 feet elevation in the bottom of a wide valley, the refuge encompasses a portion of the headquarters of the Yaqui River, which drains primarily western Chihuahua and eastern Sonora, Mexico.
Topography of the San Bernardino refuge varies from flat to rolling in the eastern and western uplands, and drops abruptly to flat bottom lands that bisect the refuge from north to south.
Dominant plant communities of uplands are Chihuahuan desert scrub and desert grassland, while bottomlands are primarily mesquite bosque and fallow fields. These arid habitats contrast well with artesian wells and seeps that create small areas of riparian forest and woodland, riparian scrub, marshlands, and aquatic habitats.
Over 270 species of birds can be seen at San Bernardino NWR, including great blue heron, green-backed heron, Virginia rail, ringneck duck, Mexican duck, sandhill crane, magnificent hummingbird, Costa's hummingbird, yellow warbler, blue grosbeak, phainopeplas, white-crowned sparrows, and Gila woodpeckers. Raptors include gray hawk, zone-tailed hawk, golden eagle, Swainson's hawk, kestrel, sharp-shinned hawk, and peregrine falcon.
San Bernardino and Leslie Canyon NWRs support many mammals, including mule deer, whitetail deer, javelina, mountain lion, raccoon, coyote, bobcat, gray fox, antelope ground squirrel, badger, jackrabbit, cottontail rabbit, kangaroo rat, and coatimundi.
Reptiles observed on the refuge include Sonoroan whipsnake, western diamondback rattlesnake, black-tailed rattlesnake, Chiricahua leopard frog, Gila monster, Madrean alligator lizard, checkered and Mexican garter snakes, horned toad, desert kingsnake, and ringneck snake.
San Bernardino NWR historically supported about one-quarter of the fish species native to Arizona. These include several endangered and threatened species such as the Yaqui chub, Yaqui topminnow, Yaqui beautiful shiner and Yaqui catfish. The other species native to the San Bernardino include Mexican stoneroller, longfin dace, roudtail chub and Yaqui sucker.

Additional information

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service page on San Bernardino and Leslie Canyon National Wildlife Refuges
USGS Bird Checklists
Wildernet information
GORP information
Also see Leslie Canyon National Wildlife Refuge



(Photos courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)